“Animal House” Star Donald Sutherland Dies At 88


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Donald Sutherland, known for his versatile roles in films like MAS*H, Ordinary People, and The Hunger Games, has passed away at the age of 88. Sutherland, who could effortlessly switch between sinister, sympathetic, comedic, and tragic characters, died Thursday in Miami after a long illness, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Sutherland, born in 1935, in New Brunswick, Canada, was one of the most esteemed actors of his generation. Over a career that spanned more than five decades, Sutherland demonstrated an extraordinary range bringing to life characters that are comedic, tragic, sympathetic, and sinister with equal skill.

Sutherland’s journey in acting began after he graduated from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. His early career saw him taking on small roles in British films and television. It was his role as the quirky surgeon Hawkeye Pierce in Robert Altman’s anti-war comedy MASH* (1970) that propelled him to international stardom. The film was a critical and commercial success, and Sutherland’s performance was widely praised for its wit and humanity.

Donald Sutherland attend the jury photocall during the 69th annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 11, 2016 in Cannes, France.

Following the success of MASH*, Sutherland continued to showcase his versatility with a series of significant roles in the 1970s. In 1971, he starred in Klute, opposite Jane Fonda, where he played a private detective investigating the disappearance of a man. His understated and intense performance added depth to the psychological thriller. The same year, he appeared in Kelly’s Heroes, a war film that allowed him to display his comedic talents.

Sutherland’s ability to convey a range of emotions was further evident in Don’t Look Now (1973), a chilling psychological horror film directed by Nicolas Roeg. His portrayal of a grieving father dealing with the loss of his daughter showcased his ability to handle complex, emotionally charged roles. The film has since become a classic in the horror genre.

LOS ANGELES – JAN 19: Donald Sutherland, Helen Mirren at the “The Leisure Seeker” Premiere at Pacific Design Center on January 19, 2018 in West Hollywood, CA

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In 1980, Sutherland took on one of his most acclaimed roles in Robert Redford’s Ordinary People. Playing the role of Calvin Jarrett, a father trying to hold his family together after a tragedy, Sutherland delivered a performance of remarkable sensitivity and restraint. The film won several Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and Sutherland’s performance earned him widespread acclaim, including a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor.

The 1980s and 1990s saw Sutherland continuing to take on diverse roles in films such as Eye of the Needle (1981), a World War II spy thriller, and Oliver Stone’s JFK (1991), where he played a mysterious informant. His work in these films further cemented his reputation as a versatile and compelling actor.

Taken in November 1981

In addition to his film work, Sutherland has also made significant contributions to television. He starred in the miniseries The Pillars of the Earth (2010), based on Ken Follett’s novel, and played key roles in series such as Commander in Chief and Dirty Sexy Money. His performance in Citizen X (1995), a TV movie about a Russian serial killer, earned him an Emmy Award and a Golden Globe Award.

In recent years, Sutherland reached a new generation of audiences with his role as President Snow in The Hunger Games series (2012-2015). His portrayal of the tyrannical ruler of Panem was both chilling and captivating, adding a layer of complexity to the dystopian saga. The role demonstrated that even in his later years, Sutherland remained a powerful screen presence.

Beyond his acting, Sutherland has been recognized with numerous awards and honors. In 2017, he received an Honorary Academy Award for his lifetime achievements in film. He is the father of five children, including actor Kiefer Sutherland, with whom he has shared the screen in films such as A Time to Kill (1996). Despite the demands of his career, Sutherland managed to maintain a strong family bond, often expressing pride in his children’s accomplishments.

From his early days in British television to his recent roles in major film franchises, he consistently delivered performances that were memorable and impactful. His ability to inhabit a wide range of characters and bring them to life with authenticity and depth has made him one of the most enduring and respected actors in the industry.

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Scoop Diggins